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How to Use Make and Do – Video

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In this lesson, you can learn how to use make and do in different ways.

You’ll see the differences between ‘make’ and ‘do’, and all the meanings of each verb. You’ll also see phrasal verbs and collocations with ‘make’ and ‘do’.

QUIZ: How to Use Make and Do

Now, test your knowledge of what you learned in the lesson by trying this quiz. For every question, you need to write the verb ‘make’ or ‘do’ in the correct tense. There are 20 questions, and you will get your score at the end, when you can click on ‘View Questions’ to see all the correct answers.

1. Basic Ways to Use ‘Do’ and ‘Make’

Gina: What are you doing?

Martin: I’m making a shopping list. I need some stuff to make dinner.

G: What are you going to make?

M: I think some kind of stir-fry. I have to do some work, too, so I need something quick.

G: Sounds tasty! Why do you have to work?

M: I have to make a presentation for our meeting tomorrow, and I need to check through what I’ve written, and maybe change a few things. By the way, can you do the washing-up before I get back? I’d like to start cooking as soon as I get in. I need to do everything and get to bed early.

G: Sure, I’ll do it now.

Here, you saw three ways to use ‘do’ and three ways to use ‘make’. Can you remember them?

  • I’m making a shopping list.
  • I need some stuff to make dinner.
  • I have to make a presentation for our meeting tomorrow.
  • Can you do the washing-up before I get back?
  • I have to do some work.
  • I need to do everything and get to bed early.

Imagine you’re an English teacher. Could you explain the basic difference between ‘do’ and ‘make’ to someone? How would you do it? Think about it!

‘Do’ means to perform an activity or a task. For example, you do work, do the washing-up, or do everything.

‘Make’ means to create something and/or produce a result. If you make a shopping list, make dinner, or make a presentation, then you create something; there’s a result at the end of the process. That’s the basic difference between ‘do’ and ‘make’.

In the rest of this lesson from Oxford Online English, you’ll learn about how to use make and do in more detail, but keep this basic idea in your head.

2. ‘Make’ = Create Something

How to use make to create something - Person making a wood carving

Martin: What’s that?

Gina: I’m making a card for Sasha’s leaving party. I thought it would be nicer to make it myself, rather than just buy something.

M: How’s it going?

G: It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be! This is my second attempt. I made a lot of mistakes first time and I had to throw it away, but now I think I’m making progress.

M: What happened in the kitchen?! Did you make all that mess?

G: Ah… Yeah… I need to make a cake, too. I mean, I’ve started making a cake.

M: Let me guess: ‘harder than you thought it would be’?

G: Yeah… A little. I’m trying to make an orange and chocolate sponge.

M: There’s chocolate all over the walls! What happened?

G: Well, the mixer was making a strange noise, so I took the lid off to see if there was a problem, but I forgot to turn it off, so the chocolate mixture went everywhere. Don’t worry; I’ll clean it up.

You can use ‘make’ when you create a result. You can use ‘make’ for things with a physical result, like ‘make a card’, ‘make a cake’, or ‘make dinner’. You can also use ‘make’ for non-physical results, like ‘make a mistake’, ‘make progress’ or ‘make a noise’.

Here’s a question: can you think of more examples like this? Pause the video and try to find three more examples of phrases with ‘make’ which describe physical results, and three which describe non-physical results. Can’t think of three? Try to find one, or two! Pause the video and do it now.

Ready? What did you get? For physical results, it’s common to use ‘make’ with food and drink, like ‘make a sandwich’, ‘make a cup of coffee’, or ‘make pizza.’ You can also ‘make a toy’, ‘make a chair’, or ‘make a shelf’, if you do it yourself. You can say that companies make things; for example: ‘Apple make the iPhone’, or ‘Honda make cars’.

For non-physical results, there are many possibilities. You could say ‘make a joke’, ‘make a suggestion’, ‘make a friend’, or ‘make an appointment.’ It’s also common to use ‘make’ with money words, like ‘make money’, ‘make a profit’ or ‘make an investment.’

Did you get any of these phrases? Did you find examples that we didn’t mention? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Next, let’s look at a slightly different way to use ‘make’.

3. Make = Produce a Reaction

How to use make to cause a reaction - Man with a tissue reacting to allergies

Gina: What’s wrong? Did something happen?

Martin: What? No, nothing.

G: You look sad.

M: It’s my allergies. At this time of year, they make my face really puffy. Plus, they make my eyes water.

G: Are you taking anything?

M: Yeah, I take antihistamines, but they don’t help that much, and they make me sleepy.

G: What are you allergic to? Pollen?

M: I think so, but it makes me sensitive to other things, too, like dust. It’s bad, but it only lasts four weeks or so.

You can use ‘make’ to mean ‘produce a reaction in someone.’ Similar to the last section, this could be a physical reaction, as in:

  • They make my face really puffy.
  • They make my eyes water.
  • The antihistamines make me sleepy.

You could also use it for emotional reactions. For example:

  • The news made him angry.
  • Thinking about what he said made me happy.

Finally, you can use ‘make’ for reactions which are both physical and emotional, like this:

  • It was such a sad film. It made me cry for hours.
  • He’s so funny. He makes me laugh all the time.

OK, here’s a task for you. Look at three questions:

  1. What makes you really happy?
  2. Can you remember the last thing that made you laugh?
  3. What could make you angry?

Can you answer these three questions for yourself? Pause the video, and make your answers. You can write them down, say them out loud, or both.

OK? Could you do it? Of course, everyone’s answers will be different, but here are three suggestions:

  • Being outside on a beautiful day makes me really happy.
  • The last thing that made me laugh was a joke my colleague made in a meeting this morning.
  • Someone not telling the truth could make me angry.

Were your answers similar, or not? Feel free to post your answers in the comments and share them with other learners.

Now, you’ve seen many ways to use ‘make’. What about ‘do’?

4. Do = Carry Out a Task

Group of people working - how to use do to 'do' a task

Martin: Have you done the report for our sales meeting tomorrow?

Gina: No. I won’t be here. Did you not get my email?

M: What email?

G: I sent it to you last week. I’ve been doing a course on digital marketing, and tomorrow I have to do the final exam.

M: So, who’ll do the report?

G: I don’t know!

M: Is there no way you can do it?

G: Sorry, no. I’ve done most of my work for today, and then I’m going straight home to do some last-minute revision.

Remember that ‘do’ means that you perform a task or an activity. You often use it to talk about things you do at work or school. Look at three examples you heard in the dialogue. Can you remember how to complete the missing words?

  • Have you done the ________ for our sales meeting?
  • I’ve been doing a ________ on digital marketing.
  • I’m going home to do some last-minute ________

Can you get the answers? You’ll see them in a second.

  • Have you done the report for our sales meeting?
  • I’ve been doing a course on digital marketing.
  • I’m going home to do some last-minute revision.

So, you can ‘do work’, ‘do business’, ‘do a deal’, ‘do a report’, and so on. You can also use ‘do’ with other kinds of work, like ‘do housework’ or ‘do homework’. Also, you can use ‘do’ for many things connected with studies and education. You ‘do research’, ‘do exams’, ‘do a course’, ‘do revision’ and ‘do a subject’.

With some of these, you can use other verbs, too. For example, you can ‘do an exam’, or ‘take an exam’. You can also use ‘take’ with ‘course’ or ‘subject’. For example, you can say ‘I have to take four subjects in my first year of university,’ or ‘I have to do four subjects in my first year…’ There’s no difference in meaning; it doesn’t matter which you use.

Let’s look at one more common way to use ‘do’.

5. Do + Something/Anything/Everything/Nothing

Gina: Have you done anything about the washing machine?

Martin: No, not yet.

G: Well, when are you going to do something? It’s been a week. I’m running out of clean clothes!

M: You could do it too, you know. I can’t do everything around here!

G: What do you mean ‘do everything’? You’ve done nothing all day! You spent the morning watching cartoons in your underwear!

M: Fine, I’ll do it tomorrow.

You can use ‘do’ as a general verb in phrases like ‘do something’. You heard three more phrases like this in the dialogue. Can you remember them? You heard, ‘do anything’, ‘do everything’ and ‘do nothing.’

You can use these phrases in different ways. For example:

  • I need to do something about my hair. It’s a mess!
  • Do you want to do anything this weekend?
  • She’s so lazy! She sits in her office all day doing nothing.
  • They’re a very close couple; they do everything together.

Easy, right? To practise, try to make your own examples, too.

Let’s do one more thing. In our last section, you’ll see some common collocations and phrases using ‘make’ and ‘do’.

6. Phrasal Verbs and Collocations

Gina: What did you make of the play?

Martin: It was interesting, but you could see that they were on a tight budget. They could have done with better lighting, for one thing. I could hardly see sometimes.

G: I know what you mean. I thought they did a good job of making do with what they had, but obviously it would have been better if they’d had more resources.

M: Yeah, they did their best.

Look at some phrasal verbs and collocations with ‘make’ and ‘do’ which you heard.

  • make of
  • do with
  • do a good job
  • make do
  • do (your) best

Can you remember how they were used? Could you explain what they mean?

‘Make of’ is mostly used in questions, when you want to ask someone for their opinion. If someone asks you ‘What did you make of it?’, they want to know what you thought. For example, if I ask you, ‘What did you make of the concert?’, I’m asking you for your opinion; did you like it, or not? Did you think it was good, or not?

‘Do with’ means to want or need. It’s conversational. You might say ‘I could do with a cup of tea’, meaning ‘I want a cup of tea.’ ‘Do a good job’ is easier to guess. If you do a good job, you do something well. It doesn’t have to be about work; you could use it about many things. You can also use different adjectives; for example ‘do a bad job’, ‘do an adequate job’, and so on.

‘Make do’ is harder to explain. Look at an example:

  • I didn’t have time to cook, so we made do with some snacks and small things.

Does this help? If you make do with something, you don’t have what you want, so you have to find a way to use something else. Here’s another example:

  • After we moved, the furniture didn’t arrive for a week, so for a bed we had to make do with a mattress on the floor.

This means that you didn’t have the thing you wanted—your bed—so you had to use something else. ‘Do your best’ means to try as hard as you can. It’s often used when you didn’t get the result you wanted. For example:

  • They did their best, but in the end they lost three-nil.
  • I did my best, but there was no way I could manage everything alone.

There are many more phrasal verbs and collocations with ‘make’ and ‘do’. Can you think of any more? If so, share your ideas in the comments, and make some examples to share your ideas with other learners!

Thanks for watching!

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